An industrial accident is a severe mishap that results “in injuries to people and damage to property or the environment.” The accident can result in injuries or death to workers in the area, or to vast numbers of people living near the accident location.
For instance, in late 2017 in Greeley, Colorado, three maintenance workers were seriously injured in a fire that broke out at an oil site where they were working.The fire was listed as an industrial accident. No members of the community were injured.
An industrial accident that affected members of the community and adjacent property occurred in 2013. A settlement was just reached earlier this year for injuries and deaths that occurred when a fertilizer plant exploded in Texas in 2013. The explosion “flattened” much of the town, which had a population of about 2,500. At least 10 emergency responders were killed while attempting to take care of the hundreds who were injured. At least 15 members of the community were also killed. A nearby nursing home suffered serious property damage, and all of its 133 residents had to be evacuated.
What Causes Industrial Accidents?
The most common reasons for industrial accidents include:
Unsafe working conditions
This occurs when:
- Proper safety precautions are not taken
- Defective equipment is in use
- Inadequate lighting or ventilation
- Dangerous chemicals are not stored properly according to safety rules and regulations
- Outdated or improper maintenance of machines and materials
Unsafe employee acts
Workers may skip steps in safety precautions either due to inadequate training or in an attempt to speed up the process. Some of those acts include:
- An unauthorized worker operating equipment
- Failure to follow safety instructions
- Speeding up or slowing down the machines
- Horseplay in the work environment
Miscellaneous causes of industrial accidents include, but are not limited to:
- Unsafe weather conditions
- Abnormal operating conditions, like excessive noise interfering with workers’ ability to concentrate on their work
- Unusual temperatures in the workspace
- Generally hazardous environment, like slippery floors and too much dust or fumes.
- Malfunctioning software
- Human error
What Is an “Industrial Hazard”?
An industrial hazard is a “predictable danger that may arise at an industrial site, with immediate serious consequences to the adjacent population, property or environment.”
The Office of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines a hazard as “the inherent capacity of a substance to cause an adverse effect.” When the substance is a chemical or hazardous substance used in industrial situations, it creates an industrial hazard.
As a result of Hurricane Harvey in September 2017, approximately 46 industrial plants in Texas became industrial hazards because the hazardous chemicals emitted in the air exceeded state standards for emissions due to damage suffered in the hurricane. This was a “predictable danger” with the potential of serious consequences to the population, property, or environment.
Common Types of Industrial Accidents
The International Federation of the Red Cross lists common types of industrial accidents that result in injuries to people and property in areas adjacent to an industrial plant, including:
- Accidental release of chemicals into the environment during the transportation process.
- Violent explosions of combustible materials.
- Accidental release of radiation into the environment that exceeds the amount deemed acceptable by the government.
- Pollution due to “mismanagement of natural and environmental resources.”
- Atmosphere contamination when a large quantity of gas is released into the air as a result of burning natural and artificial fuels and other chemicals.
- Mine accidents when natural gas or coal dust reacts with the air.
Contact Personal Injury Attorneys at Johnstone & Gabhart
If you were injured in an industrial accident, or a family member was killed, you need the assistance of our personal injury attorneys at Johnstone & Gabhart. We have the experience you need to have on your side in your pursuit of damages against what are often large corporations with an abundance of resources. Contact us as soon as possible for a free case consultation.